INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
CORK SIMON COMMUNITY
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Appeal Against Rights Commissioner Recommendation 39/98
2. The Cork Simon Community which was founded in 1971 is a caring, campaigning body providing care and accommodation for the homeless people of Cork City. It is managed by a voluntary Board of Directors and employs 7 permanent staff.
- The dispute before the Court concerns the Union's claim on behalf of a worker for incremental increases. The worker concerned commenced employment with the Cork Simon Community in March, 1989 as an administrator and was placed on the houseparent scale of pay. Following an agreement in 1994 he was placed on point 1 of the Local Authority Grade 5 scale with effect from the 1st of September, 1994. The agreement provided for the worker to be placed on the maximum point of the houseparent scale effective from the 1st of September, 1995.
In September, 1996, the Union sought incremental increases on the Grade 5 scale on the grounds that this had been part of the 1994 agreement. Management rejected the claim. Local level discussions took place following which management offered 18 month incremental movement in return for certain change proposed by management (details supplied). Management's offer was rejected by the Union and the matter was referred to a Rights Commissioner for investigation and recommendation. On the 30th of April, 1998, the Rights Commissioner recommended as follows:
"I therefore recommend that:
(a) Cork Simon Community and MANDATE should formally accept the principle that the Local Authority Grade V Scale is the appropriate scale for the worker’s position, and that the normal practice of increments being applied annually should apply, once the issues below have been resolved;
(b) as a gesture of goodwill, the worker should immediately be placed on Point 3 of this Scale with effect from 1 September 1997;
(c) the parties should meet at an early date with a view to discussing the issues proposed by management;
(d) in the event that agreement is reached on all issues, the worker should move up the scale in the normal way;
(e) if one or more issues remain unresolved, the matter should be dealt with in accordance with normal procedures, to include the involvement of the Rights Commissioner Service if appropriate."
The worker was named in the recommendation.
The Rights Commissioner's Recommendation was appealed by the Union to the Labour Court on the 3rd of June, 1998 under Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Labour Court heard the appeal in Cork on the 9th of September, 1998.
3. 1. The worker's current scale is the Local Authority Grade 5 scale. It is a well established practice that increments are paid annually.
2. The issues raised by management and contained in the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation are outside his remit on the grounds that they affect other workers.
3. The Union has stated that it is prepared to discuss these issues on a "stand alone" basis. It has been instructed by its members not to reach an agreement that has implications for their terms and conditions without their involvement.
4. The Union requests the Court to uphold its appeal and to recommend that incremental increases be paid on an annual basis.
4. 1. The Community maintains that the offer it made on the 8th of March, 1998 (details supplied) is a fair and reasonable offer in all the circumstances. It also indicated that it was willing to negotiate on the proposal.
2. The agreement of 1994 did not provide for any increases after the 1st of September, 1995.
3. The worker’s contract of employment only provided for payment based on the houseparent scale. The Community's proposal goes beyond this and offers a rate of pay and incremental increase in excess of this in return for certain changes. The Community is not in a position to incur any further cost increases.
4. The Community contends that the implications of the Rights Commissioner's findings on the houseparent scale is an increase of 10% and this serves to highlight the vulnerability of the Community with regard to pay when the Community has no autonomy on the matter (i.e. scales linked to other bodies).
5. The Community is committed to the Programme 2000 agreement and views this claim as a cost increasing claim. It is willing to consider the claim but must get something in return in the way of productivity, cost saving, process improvement, etc.
6. The Community requests the Court to recommend acceptance of its proposal dated the 8th of March, 1998. In the alternative it is prepared to accept the proposal of the Rights Commissioner.
The Court having considered the written and oral submissions upholds the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation and rejects the appeal.
However, the Court recommends that the discussions between the parties be completed within 6 weeks from the date of the Recommendation.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
22nd September, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.